Firefighters committed to tackling deliberate fire-setting in Scottish Borders

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Firefighters have carried out a range of proactive initiatives to educate members of the public on the dangers of fire-setting.

SFRS logo on appliance


Firefighters have recorded an increase in deliberate fire-setting in the Scottish Borders.

A report presented to members of the Scottish Borders Council Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board on Friday morning, February 10, shows that crews have noted a rise in fires set as a result of antisocial behaviour.

Between April and December 2016, there were 78 intentional fires recorded in the area.

That figure increased to 136 between the same reporting period last year.

Despite the increase, there has been a steady decline in recorded instances throughout 2017.

A spike during the opening reporting period of 2017 is responsible for much of the increase.

The majority of deliberate fires recorded were a result of anti-social behaviour.

This rise resulted in a number of proactive educational initiatives carried out by firefighters and their community partners.

Stephen Gourlay is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Local Senior Officer for East Lothian, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders

He said: “The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is fully committed to working to drive down instances of deliberate fire-setting.

“By working with our partners in the community, we educate school children and members of the public on the dangers and consequences involved in fire-setting.

“We take a zero tolerance approach towards anyone who deliberately sets fires.”

Between April and December last year, firefighters recorded thirteen fire-related casualties– a reduction of seven from the same period in 2016.

There were no fire-related fatalities between April and December last year.

A key priority for the SFRS is reducing the number of unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS).

UFAS incidents occur when firefighters are called to an incident as a result of equipment failure, malicious false alarms or false alarms with good intent.

The Borders saw 687 UFAS incidents - an increase of 27 on the same period in 2016.

LSO Gourlay believes partnership work is essential to reducing UFAS occurrences.

He said: “Unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS) can divert SFRS resources away from genuine emergencies and result in unnecessary blue light journeys for our firefighters.

“UFAS can result in lost revenue for businesses and the risk of staff becoming complacent.

“We are committed to working with duty holders and, where appropriate, improving management arrangements within premises to reduce the number of unwanted fire alarm signals.

“This will allow organisations to understand and manage their fire alarm systems to reduce business disruption and the number of unnecessary blue light journeys.”

The report also shows that firefighters attended 69 house fires between April and December, the same number attended in 2016.

Members of the council’s Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board backed Service plans for the region at Friday morning’s meeting.